Love and Social Justice, Part 3

Love and Social Justice, Part 3 May 2, 2024


Let’s wrap up our consideration of the relationship to John’s ethic of loving one another and social justice. What might we also learn from the Johannine community’s call to, above all else, remember to love one another? 

Welcome Readers! Please subscribe to Social Jesus Here.

(Read this series from the beginning at Part 1 and Part 2.)

In our justice work today, love must be the foundation of justice. When I say “love,” I don’t mean sentimental feelings or emotional availability. Take enemy love for example. Enemy love doesn’t mean you actually feel something positive or warm for your enemies. You may genuinely and justifiably not like them. It does mean you refuse to remove them from the human race. It means you still recognize their humanity. We may be obstructing their intention to do harm, or standing up to them and telling them “no,” or calling for them to be held accountable for the choices they have made, but we still acknowledge that we are connected to them through our shared humanity. We hold space for them to choose to make better decisions. And, until they get there, we still hold out the option that they can experience change.

As we work toward making our world a safe and just home for everyone, love of neighbor calls us to love those neighbors who may be different from us, too. This is a central theme Jesus taught when he defined “neighbor” in his own social and political context as a Samaritan.

As a Christian, you can’t love your neighbor and not care about the things they suffer from because of the way our society is shaped. You can’t love them and vote for policies or politicians who seek to do them harm. During this election season here in the U.S., pay close attention to which vulnerable groups are being scapegoated or who we are being encouraged to feel fear toward as one political party seeks to one-up or out-do the other. I’m thinking of my dear trans friends and my children’s trans school friends, who are all much more at risk of hurting themselves than hurting anyone else around them. I’m thinking of political commercial after commercial on my local television stations where each politician is trying prove they are more anti-trans than the other guy. As they reach toward being elected to office do they realize how precious these kids are that they are throwing under the bus to achieve their political goals?

Years ago, I was involved in our town expanding our non-discrimination laws to include housing, employment and public services for our LGBTQ neighbors. I remember speaking with a city council woman after one of the public hearings and will never forget her words: “Do you want your child to have a place to live? Do you want your child to have employment? Do you want your child excluded from eating at a local restaurant? Well every LGBTQ person you meet is somebody’s child.” I was already an ally when she said this to me, but as, tears filled my eyes, every fiber of my being said “Amen.” She is now our mayor.

Our reading this week reminds us of the central command of Jesus’ teachings, that we love each other as Jesus loved us. And in the end, by this everyone will know that we are Jesus’ disciples, “if you love one another.” (John 13:35)




About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives